Dear Neighbors,

On Monday the Senate debated and passed H260, which legislated cuts to Idaho’s Medicaid programs. These cuts to state assistance programs have been among many difficult decisions the Legislature has been faced with as a result of the ailing economy. I can assure you that my colleagues and I worked to ensure that cuts made to Medicaid were minimal in order to do the least harm possible to Idaho’s most vulnerable citizens. I again want to thank the hundreds of Idahoans who testified before the Joint Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC) in mid-January and before the Joint Health and Welfare Committees in early March to give legislators an idea as to how these programs personally affect your lives on a daily basis and where money might be saved in particular areas of these programs. Testimony heard before JFAC and correspondence received on this issue helped to shape the bills and cuts made. Because of your insightful testimony, the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees agreed to restore funding for developmental therapy services after age 45 and funding for services for disabled adults. Your willingness to participate in the people’s governmental process and testify before committees, helps legislators do their job better. Thank you.
Wednesday afternoon the Senate debate S1198, which has to do with the way primary candidates are elected in Idaho. Currently, a voter may vote for either a Republican or Democrat candidate in a primary election, regardless of which party he or she is most closely aligned with. Voters sometimes purposely vote for the a weaker primary candidate in the party they oppose in order to decrease the likelihood that the candidate in their own party will face a strong candidate in the general election, a practice called cross-over voting. S1198 would establish a party registration affiliation for registered voters to ensure that those who vote in a primary election only vote with the party with which he or she is most closely aligned in order to prevent cross-over voting. If S1198 passes in both houses, and obtains the Governor’s approval, implementation would be phased in beginning with the 2012 election cycle.
As a sidenote, you may be interested to know that I won the "Top Shooter" award at the Fraternal Order of Police’s annual Legislative Shootout. The Legislative Shootout is a fun event that I look forward to and this year had a great time shooting well, an activity that I really enjoy.
My colleagues and I are beginning to wrap things up for the 2011 Legislative Session. As you may have heard, the House is currently undergoing a battle of partisan politics and most of the bills are being read line by line in the House before they are being debated. With some bills being 30 pages or more, this can create quite a stall, but I have high hopes that both the House and Senate will adjourn next week.
Please continue to keep in touch throughout this next week as my colleagues and I continue to tackle legislation on the floor. I always want to hear how you feel about issues that are important to you and important to Idaho. You may e-mail me at http://www.CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov&lt;www.CWinder@Senate.Idaho.Gov> or visit my website,<>.

Senator Chuck Winder,
Assistant Majority Leader